What is the story of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
While the attention of the Horde and Alliance remained fixed upon Northrend, an ancient evil has been lying dormant within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane. Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth, nursing his hatred for the inferior creatures that infest the surface realm...and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.
Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.
The face of Azeroth is altered forever as the destruction left in Deathwing's wake reshapes the land and reveals secrets long sealed away. Players will be able to re-experience familiar zones across Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, rewrought by the cataclysm and filled with new opportunities for adventure.
What are the features of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
Some of the new features of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm include:
- Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races--the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
- Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to improve characters.
- Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.
- New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj'ir beneath the sea.
- More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters.
- New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.
- Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
- New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
- Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
- Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.
Why are you revisiting the continents of Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor?
As we developed new content and expansions, we learned a lot of techniques to provide players with a better game experience--but the majority of the new content we were creating was for high-level characters only. We felt we could apply the lessons of Outland and Northrend to improve the gameplay experience while leveling in the original two continents. Imagine revisiting a familiar zone like Darkshore only to find Auberdine destroyed by the cataclysm--and then discovering entirely new towns and quests in other parts of the zone.
Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms are central to World of Warcraft lore, and we want those areas to remain an important part of the game, not just a place to train or auction. Our goal is to make questing, leveling, and the overall story more fun for new, returning, and existing players. By redesigning areas of the original continents and introducing new content that matches or exceeds the quality of Wrath of the Lich King, we can revitalize the nostalgia and coolness of Azeroth.
How did you decide upon the two new playable races, worgen and goblin?
The community has been requesting to play as the goblins for quite some time now, and we wanted to stick with at least one race that players were very familiar with. This expansion was the perfect time to bring the goblins to the forefront and offer more insight into their past, since the catastrophic events of the expansion really hit close to home.
As for the worgen, players have been hoping to be able to learn more about them since Silverpine Forest. This is a great opportunity to explore their lore and the mysteries of the Greymane Wall. The worgen are an aggressive and beastly race, which is something you see often among the Horde races, but is unique among the Alliance races.
Will the two new races have all-new starting experiences?
Yes, we are creating all-new level 1 to 15 starting zones for both races. Players will start their adventures with the worgen in Gilneas, which was sealed off behind the Greymane Wall. Goblin players will start on the Isle of Kezan and then head to the Lost Isles in the South Seas before joining the mainland. Each starting experience will be presented in a fashion similar to the death knight starting area in Wrath of the Lich King, and these starting zones will make extensive use of our new phased-terrain technology.
What new race and class combinations will be available?
A: Nearly every existing race will gain access to a new class they haven’t before. Some of the new race and class combos include dwarf mage, gnome priest, human hunter, troll druid, blood elf warrior, and tauren paladin. Since one of our goals with the expansion is to make the leveling-up process feel fresh again, it made sense to introduce these new combinations as another way for players to get a new perspective on Azeroth.
Which classic zones have been overhauled? What are some examples of changes?
Nearly all of the game’s original zones are being altered to some degree, but the extent of the changes varies by zone. For example, Darkshore is flooded and has been completely redesigned with all new quest hubs. The Barrens have been split in two; one half is for low-level players and the other is for higher-level players. Azshara is now a low-level zone for Horde players and connects directly to Orgrimmar. Players will get to explore new sections of Blackrock Spire and Blackwing Lair, and we’ve also added Heroic versions of a couple of classic dungeons, Shadowfang Keep and the Deadmines.
Why is the level cap increasing by five levels (to 85) instead of 10 as in previous expansions?
We decided to focus on providing more end-game and maximum-level content for players. We learned a lot from Wrath of the Lich King, and want to ensure players have more content to experience right away when they reach the new cap of level 85. We’re also putting a lot of time and effort into reworking the level 1 to level 60 content. We’ve learned a lot designing the previous expansions and felt we could apply those lessons to improve the leveling-up experience. Creating alts has always been a popular pastime for players, and we wanted to ensure Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms remain a vital part of the game world.
What kind of updates do you have planned for talent trees? Will any other new character progression options be available?
Our plan is to update all of the talent trees, in some cases dramatically, as well as add new talents where appropriate. We don’t plan to make the individual talent trees go deeper than 51 points, because we want to provide players more flexibility to pick up some talents in other trees. Instead, we’re introducing a new form of alternate character progression that we’re calling the path system. The idea is similar to talents, but rather than earning points on a per-level basis, players will earn points to assign by completing quests, defeating certain raid encounters, and completing other objectives in the game. Paths will be shared among multiple classes and themed around the Titans, creators of Azeroth, such as Aman’Thul, Aggramar, or Khaz’goroth (among others).
What new content will be available for high-level players who wish to play beyond level 80?
We’re adding a number of new zones for players as they advance from level 80 to 85 in newly opened areas such as Uldum and Deepholm, the realm from which Deathwing erupted. We’re also going to have more content for max-level players (level 85 in this case) right from the start than we did in previous expansions, including optional harder modes of all our raids for players seeking additional challenge. We’ll also be adding new achievements, including guild-based achievements as part of a new guild-progression feature.
What are some of the new zones for players level 80 and higher?
Some of the new high-level zones in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm include:
- Uldum -- Unearth the answers to some of Azeroth’s greatest mysteries in the land of Uldum, a vast repository of ancient Titan knowledge.
- The Sunken City of Vashj’ir -- This great lost city lies on the ocean floor and contains the entrance to the Abyssal Maw.
- Deepholm -- Subterranean dangers await within the twisted caverns of Deathwing’s domain, the elemental plane of earth.
- Mount Hyjal -- This land, still scarred by the battle that took place here against the Burning Legion, is home to the regrowing World Tree, Nordrassil, and contains the gateway to the Firelands.
- Twilight Highlands -- The dangerous Twilight’s Hammer clan dwells here, working in the shadow of the fabled stronghold of Grim Batol.
What’s in store for professions?
In addition to new skill levels and new recipes, we’re also considering some enhancements to existing professions. For example, we’re considering giving tailors the ability to alter certain stats on cloth gear, letting leatherworkers alter stats on leather gear, and so on. We are going to allow players to gain multiple skill points for completing some tasks. We’re also doing a pass on all craftable items to make sure they are more valuable at lower level. Most exciting, we are adding a new secondary skill, archaeology, which will allow players to collect and use artifacts from some of the ancient races of Azeroth. Archaeology also plays a prominent role in the path system.
What new PvP features can we expect? Will there be new Battlegrounds or a world PvP zone similar to Wintergrasp?
We plan to add new Battlegrounds for players to participate in, including one called Battle for Gilneas City. We will also introduce rated Battlegrounds, which will allow players to prove their skill and earn Arena points through either Battleground or Arena gameplay. The community has been requesting rated Battlegrounds for a while, and we think it would be great to finally see who reigns supreme in Arathi Basin, Warsong Gulch, or one of the new Battlegrounds.
We’re also adding a new Wintergrasp-type zone called Tol Barad Island, which will contain new PvP objectives and combat goals. Tol Barad Island will also double as a daily quest hub, similar to the Isle of Quel’danas, when player-versus-player battles are not taking place.
Will there be any changes to player stats such as Agility, Spell Power, and so on?
We are always looking for ways to improve how player stats work. Our long-term plan is to simplify statistics and provide a more clear understanding of their effects on healing and damage dealing. For example, Spell Power will no longer be its own statistic, and Intellect will provide its benefits instead. We also plan to make Spirit the definitive mana-regeneration statistic, in which case we would remove the mana-per-5-seconds stat from gear. Confusing stats like defense and armor penetration will likely go away. Of course, existing items will be updated to reflect these changes. We’re also adding a new stat called Mastery, which ties into a character’s existing talents and will grant a unique function for each class. A rogue, for example, might gain an extra combo point through the Mastery stat.
How many dungeons and raids will be available when the expansion launches? Will Cataclysm keep the same 10-player and 25-player raiding structure?
There will be eight new 5-player dungeons, available in both regular and Heroic modes. In addition, we are planning level-85 Heroic versions of two of the game’s popular original 5-player dungeons, Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep.
Regarding raids, we plan to continue to offer 10- and 25-player versions of our raid dungeons. We’re currently working on four raid dungeons for Cataclysm’s launch, and each will have optional, more challenging versions available for both 10- and 25-player raids. We received a lot of feedback from the community about the amount and difficulty level of raid content available at the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, and we wanted to make sure that more high-level content was available to players of every skill level at Cataclysm’s launch.
Is another Hero class being added to the game?
We are not planning to add a new Hero class in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. For this expansion, it was more appropriate to focus on the two new races, the goblins and worgen. We never intended to include a Hero class in every expansion. As you saw with death knights, adding a new class changes the dynamics of the game dramatically, which is not something we want to do in every expansion. We still have plans to introduce new Hero classes in the future.
Will I be able to use my flying mount in the redesigned Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor?
Yes. While the original Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor weren’t designed for flying mounts, we’re redesigning the continents with flying mounts in mind. However, we’re still determining whether there will be any restrictions on where you will be able to fly, at what level flying will become available, or whether you’ll need to do anything to unlock it. We’ll share more details about this in the future.
Will I need the expansion to be able to experience the Cataclysm changes?
When the Cataclysm occurs, it will occur for all players, whether they have purchased the expansion or not--you will no longer be able to play in the original version of Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. However, certain features such as the new zones, new races, and new level cap will only be accessible to players who purchase the expansion.
Will “phasing” be used more extensively in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
Yes. We’ve come up with a number of new, cool ways to use phasing since we introduced it in Wrath of the Lich King, and we plan to use it more extensively to change the world as players progress. We are also now able to phase terrain, which players will see firsthand in the starting areas for the goblins and worgen. We’re also adding some UI improvements to help determine when another player is in a different “phase” from you.
If you’re creating an entire underwater zone, are you making any changes to the way players interact with water?
Yes. We’ll be introducing some new mechanics specific to the Sunken City of Vashj’ir that address current issues with underwater movement, combat, and other gameplay mechanics.
Will there be any updates to the graphics and changes to the minimum system requirements?
Yes, there will be incremental tweaks and updates to the graphics engine in this expansion. For example, we’ve made improvements to the way that water is rendered. We’ll announce the exact system requirements closer to the expansion’s release.